A/N: Hello readers! I hope all of you have enjoyed the introduction to Sir Aldred? He's not that grave of a character, but I will reveal one thing: he is very crucial to the story.
Another head's up: this chapter also sees the introduction to another OC.
I hope you all enjoy this chapter!
Chapter 5: Endeavor
The rest of the day was almost a blur. As promised, Peter saw to the rest of the day's matters, although around midday he and Sir Aldred had set off to the Western Wood to catch up on the last five years since they had seen each other. Susan had taken her dainty ladies maids to Cair's gardens, at the very tip of the peninsula, to collect lilacs to weave in her hair for the evening's banquet with Aldred, leaving only dear Lucy, who had graciously refused, instead opting to look over documents concerning the Eastern sea (although Edmund knew it was because of all things Lucy loved to with her dear older sister, collecting flowers was almost like a death sentence).
A sudden craving to ride out to the Shuddering Woods struck him, but he knew his absence would not go unnoticed, especially when Aldred's arrival had awakened. Not that she needed the company, but he had decided to stay behind just for Lucy. So when the sun set low enough to touch the salty waves of Cair Paravel, Edmund knocked three times cleanly on the door to her chambers.
She answered almost immediately, her golden-brown hair dangling loosely around her face, wearing the very same dress from that morning. "Edmund?"
Edmund mockingly folded his arms. "Is that really the way to greet old kin, Lu?"
Lucy yawned unceremoniously. "Sorry, Ed. I've just been a bit…tired. Is everything alright?"
"All is well," Edmund said, although his voice did not quite match his expression. "Would it be alright if I came in?"
"Of course," Lucy said, gesturing for him to by sliding the velvet door to her chambers a few feet.
Once he made himself comfortable, leaning onto one of her spare desks and tossing a balled up piece of parchment from one hand to the other, Lucy fell onto her four post bed and then quickly sat up. "Sorry about the mess," she muttered as she rubbed her eyes.
"Still, this is pretty grouped up compared to my room," Edmund said, and Lucy laughed. "Are you free anytime before the banquet this evening?"
Lucy shrugged. "I suppose. Why?"
Finding the ball was of no interest to him any longer, he set it aside and pulled one of the spare wooden desk chairs to him, sitting informally on it, his chin resting lightly on the chair's top.
Lucy straightened he posture. "Don't tell me you're planning to go to the Shuddering Woods again, Ed."
"Of course not," Edmund snapped. "I value our heads, Lu. And Pete could be back by any second, so I wouldn't even dream of it."
Lucy crossed her arms. "Then what is it?"
Edmund drew his breath. "Have you noticed that Pete's been a bit…I don't know…withdrawn lately?"
Lucy shrugged again. "Oh, come off it. Peter's always 'withdrawn' whenever we get visitors. It just means he's busy."
"That's what I'm talking about," Edmund explained. "Aldred's an old friend. He shouldn't have to be 'busy'. And he shouldn't have to be 'withdrawn' either. Why now? What's getting under his skin that he's not telling us about?"
Lucy held up her ringed hand, and then sighed. "What are you implying, Edmund?"
Edmund drew another breath. "What I tell you might – I don't know – flabbergast you, but promise you won't get angry."
"Yes, yes, I promise!" Lucy said. "Just tell me."
"I think something's happening that Peter isn't telling us about. And I think we ought to find out what it is."
"Yes, but how?" Lucy said. "Peter's very introverted, very solitary. We couldn't get anything out of him even if we broke him."
Edmund lifted his chin from the chair's top. "Yes, Lu, but see, we wouldn't have to tell him. He and Aldred ride west. It's a half hour ride, at the very least. We've got plenty of time."
Lucy bolted up so quickly she sent several parchments flying in every direction. "I am not going to help you break into Peter's room, Ed!"
"I never said 'break in'!" Edmund retorted, holding his hands up in defense. He had never seen Lucy like this, but he knew that she would not let up for anything, despite her airy figure. "You've got a poor choice of words, Lu. I prefer endeavor. Discover. Venture."
"Without Peter's permission," Lucy added, putting her hands on her hips in a way Susan would. "Which would mean lying. And you know Ed, that above everything else, Peter does not tolerate lying."
"Yes, but we wouldn't be lying," Edmund said. "Lying would be Peter finding out his room's been searched, and us telling him we've got nothing to do with it. What Peter doesn't know won't hurt him."
Lucy's expression eased at the very slightest. "Well…when you put it that way, I do suppose…but what is it that you're trying to find out, anyway?" she added vigorously.
"Even I don't know," Edmund said gravely. "But it's got to be somber. Otherwise, either of us would know about it."
Susan picked up her velvet skirts, urging her bare feet up the lonesome hill which overlooked the gardens of Cair Paravel, her dainty slippers dangling off her delicate fingers. She and at least four of her ladies maids, two of which were larch dryads and the others daughters of Eve, had spent the last few hours collecting lilacs along the stream of the Eastern sea to later weave into her hair for the coming banquet with Aldred. It was a silly request and she knew it, but the fresh salty sea air had satisfied. As pointed out by Peter, she had not left Cair in almost a week, and the exposure was good for her.
The sun had begun to set and the starts begun to show, and yet she continued, her glistening purple gown now almost akin to the sky. The hill was perched atop a large, sandy cliff, nearing about twenty feet in height away from the angry and foamy sea waves. Suddenly, as she took another step, she clumsily slipped onto a glazed, mossy sea rock, and fell onto her back.
Her youngest ladies maid, no older than Lucy a daughter of Eve named Cedany, rushed to her royal mistress' side. "My lady, my Gentle lady…"
Her concern was almost drowned out by Susan's odd, out-of-place laughter. "Oh my," she said, propping herself up. "How graceless I am…"
Cedany instead took Susan's arm in hers, only to spot a wound sustained from the sea rock, which had in fact turned out to be acuminous. The cut lay bloody and afresh on her pale skin. "My lady, you're hurt."
Susan's laughter hadn't died out, but she looked to where Cedany had indicated. "Worry not, Cedany," she reassured her dainty friend. "It's a cut, nothing more. You should see the ones Peter and Edmund get when they come home from battles."
Cedany lay defiant, and tore a piece of her handmade dress in one swipe, wrapping it around Susan's bleeding arm. "Even so, my Gentle Queen, a spark may lead to a forest fire, just as a small wound to an infection."
As Cedany continued wrapping the white linen cloth around her arm, Susan looked over her shoulder to her other ladies maids, the dryads and the other daughter of Eve, and smiled brightly. "Continue your collecting, ladies. I have but a mere wound, nothing more."
Cedany had finished her work, and wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead. "Are you sure you may manage, my lady?"
"I feel as able-bodied and blooming as I did when we arrived," Susan said, as she took Cedany's hand in hers. "Thank you, dear one."
"My lady," Cedany said, and bowed ever so graciously.
"Wait," Susan interjected, and Cedany turned before she could step down the hill to collect more lilacs. "Won't you sit with me awhile, child? In fact, do my hair before our return to Cair. I would most appreciate it."
Cedany's stern expression cracked into a radiant smile. "But of course, Gentle Queen, but of course." She settled herself next to Susan warmly, and took a handful of the lilacs she had been picking, weaving them as best she could into Susan's hair, carefully balancing them on the silky surfaces.
"You think Peter a good king, do you not?" Susan suddenly interjected.
Taken aback, Cedany quickly regained her posture. "But a mere servant such as myself holds no worthy opinion of such great matters, but for what it is worth, I believe his High Majesty is leading dear Narnia into her greatest era yet."
Cedany suddenly drew back, her pale cheeks reddening considerably. "I think what any thinks of his Just King," she said, her voice drooping low. "He is courageous and loyal just as prophesied. The Great Lion himself correctly crowned his majesty as the Just." Her voice had trailed off.
Susan turned and beamed at her. "You speak of him as if of a lover, dear Cedany."
"No," Cedany reassured. "Of course not, my lady. That would be disrespectful under the lion's name."
"Nonsense, child," Susan reassured her. "Aslan himself stands for all that is love, does he not?"
"Oh yes, but I didn't mean love!" Cedany quickly implied. "Not to say that I hate his Just Majesty, nobody should, I –"
"Be still, dear one," Susan said, graciously raising her hand to silence her. "You need not worry. I may be a Queen, and you a servant, but we are friends. And I believe friends should share secrets."
Cedany laughed quietly. "There is no secret to share. His Majesty is a King, and I am but a servant. It can only be dreamt of." She had finished weaving the last flower into Susan's hair, and stood, tilting her head slightly, to look upon her magnificent result.
Susan stood as well, her dark, flower-woven hair falling down her shoulders. "Do not say that, child. For if you had told me years ago, when I was but a mere child living in my own world that I was to become Queen of Narnia one day, I would have said the same thing."
When the sun had completely set, Edmund and Lucy found themselves where they had initially planned: Peter's chambers, worn and tired from carefully searching every accumulated pile of paperwork, in no place to be, especially before the welcoming banquet.
"Ed, we've searched every pile," Lucy said, throwing herself of Peter's bed. "Can't we just let up? It's past dawn."
"If I knew it would be this hard I wouldn't have even thought about it," Edmund sighed, throwing himself next to Lucy. "Come on, Peter…"
"Maybe he keeps everything in the council chambers?" Lucy suggested, putting a reassuring hand on Edmund's shoulder. "And technically, there wouldn't be anything bad about that. We all share equal access."
"Can't," Edmund said flatly. "The banquet's in what, an hour? It would look too out of place."
Lucy sighed and lifted herself from the bed, wandering over to one of Peter's windows.
"We could always sneak into the council chambers," Edmund suggested very suddenly. "Nobody would have to know."
"We can't do that either," Lucy said, her voice suddenly shaky. She turned to face Edmund, blue eyes struck with horror. "We can't sneak into the council chambers because Peter and Aldred have returned."
It would mean the world for a review. I hope you all enjoyed this chapter!